Next week, Brazilian Defense minister, Nelson Jobim, has informed that Brazil and the United States will sign a defense-cooperation agreement. This would be the first major bilateral military cooperation agreement since 1977.
The pact, to be inked with US defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday in Washington, will make “defense-related businesses viable,” Jobim told the Foreign Relations and defense Committee of the Lower house of congress, but did not elaborate.
Earlier this week, a senior US government official told the Associated Press that the agreement provides a broad framework for military cooperation but differs from military pacts Washington has with Colombia and its NATO partners.
“It deals with military exchanges, everything from comparing military equipment to the exchange of students and instructors at military academies” the official said. “There will be provisions for US Navy ship visits and sharing lessons in peacekeeping.”
The Colombia agreement signed last year facilitates a limited number of US troops to make use of seven Colombian military bases and grants immunity from criminal prosecution for US service personnel.
There is no such immunity in the draft Brazil agreement and no stipulation for allowing US troops to be stationed in Brazil. The US would have to ask specific permission to send troops to Brazil for any period of time, even if just for joint peacekeeping exercises.
According to Brazilian press reports, the agreement would create a “multinational, multifunction” base in Rio de Janeiro to monitor drug trafficking.
O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, which broke the story, did not specify what role the US military would play, but the article says that foreigners cannot command operations in Brazil.
The Colombian deal sparked uproar in South America when it was announced last August. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said at the time that “an American base in Colombia doesn’t please me” but later said the issue fell within the scope of Colombian sovereignty.
US Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela currently visiting Andean countries had anticipated that a “security cooperation agreement” was in the making with Brazil, although “it’s not finished yet”. However Valenzuela said he would not comment further.
Last March 26, the US ambassador in Colombia William Brownfield revealed in a press interview that Washington was preparing to sign “military collaboration” agreements with several Latin American countries, which he did not identify.
Valenzuela added that Washington would search for security agreements with other countries, “but cooperation depends on the other countries. It’s a normal issue but it is countries that reach such understandings among themselves”.
Last month Uruguay’s defense minister Luis Rosadilla back from a visit to the United States admitted that a “security or defense” agreement with the US is “of interest for Uruguay”.
Rosadilla did not elaborate on the terms of a possible security agreement but informed the parliamentary commissions of his trip to the US and United Nations, and President Jose Mujica administration intentions in defense issues.